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Home / India News / Fear of Covid-19 sparks demand for electric crematorium in Haridwar

Fear of Covid-19 sparks demand for electric crematorium in Haridwar

Locals and priests in Haridwar are apprehensive that open cremation of those who die of Covid-19 could spark community transmission.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2020, 17:24 IST
Sandeep Rawat| Edited by Sabir Hussain
Sandeep Rawat| Edited by Sabir Hussain
Hindustan Times, Haridwar
A traditional cremations on  a ghat of the Ganga in haridwar.
A traditional cremations on a ghat of the Ganga in haridwar. (HT PHOTO)

Local residents and priests in Haridwar have voiced their opposition to open cremations on the ghats of the Ganga of people who die Covid-19 and have demanded that a defunct electric crematorium be restarted.

The demand was sparked after a large number of traditional funerals on the ghats. Locals say the authorities should restart the electric crematorium in the city which is safer, cost-effective and environment friendly too. The electric crematorium has not been used for the past several years.

Locals fear that cremating bodies of people who died of Covid-19 could lead to community transmission of the disease.

Click here for full Covid-19 coverage.

The electric crematorium at Khadkhadi ghat operated for over two decades. But rising maintenance costs and people choosing funeral pyres for traditional last rites eventually lead to the crematorium being abandoned.

Kankhal Cremation Ghat Managing Committee president Ram Kumar Mishra said priests are now apprehensive of conducting last rites of Covid-19 casualties. “Those who perform last rites are still apprehensive about funeral pyres in the open. So electric crematorium is a necessity now as it is a much safer option for the cremation of such suspected cases”, he said.

Taking cognizance of local people, particularly those residing near Khadkhadi and Kankhal cremation ghats openly opposing the funeral rites of Covid-19 casualties and those suspected to have of the virus in the past few weeks, the municipal corporation is now contemplating restarting electric crematorium at Khadkhadi ghat.

According to Haridwar town commissioner Narendra Singh Bhandari, the proposal for restarting electric crematorium first needs to be put up at the civic body meeting and after the board passes it, a decision can be taken to restart the crematorium.

Citing a lack of awareness as well as adherence to the custom of traditional funeral rites among the majority of people who don’t prefer electric crematoriums, Khadkhadi Cremation Ghat Managing Committee vice president Jagat Singh Rawat said that in initial years only unknown and unclaimed bodies were cremated in the electric crematorium.

“Operational and maintenance cost of the electric crematorium spiked as most people preferred traditional funeral pyre. This led to the closure of electric crematorium but keeping in mind the spread of Covid-19 we have already cleaned and sanitized the electric crematorium here,” said Jagat Singh Rawat.

Haridwar chief medical officer Dr Saroj Naithani said that as per Central government guidelines, the body of a Covid-19 patient can be cremated at any type of crematorium.

“The body, as well as plastic sheet, is sanitized and then only handed in a special plastic bag and due precaution is taken while performing last rites”, she said.

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